Virginia Tech® home

Youth Livestock Program

Youth Livestock banner image

The 4-H Youth Livestock Program is the largest animal science project area enabling youth to develop their interest in beef cattle, sheep, meat goats, and swine in their 4-H projects. Youth learn about selection, care, and feeding of livestock, animal health, and importance of good record keeping. Emphasis for these projects continues to be focused on life skill development.

This program offers competitions such as livestock judging and stockmen's contests as well as livestock shows at the county, district, and state levels.


2024 Save the Dates


  • March 27, 2024 - VA 4-H/FFA State Skillathon
  • April 19th, 2024 - State Youth Cattle Working Contests
  • June 26, 2024 - State Livestock Judging Contest


A skillathon contest is a comprehensive test of livestock knowledge including identification classes of meats, feeds, equipment and breeds; evaluation classes of meats, hay, sheep, swine, and beef; a knowledge-based quiz; and an applied team problem.

Skillathon Contest Basics

Skillathon Contest Resources

Previous Skillathon Contest Materials

Previous Skillathon Contest Results

Livestock judging contests consist of market and breeding animals, including beef, meat goats, sheep, and swine. Participants rank the animals in the classes, answer questions on chosen classes, and deliver sets of oral reasons from memory.

Livestock Judging Contest Resources

Previous Livestock Judging Contest Materials

Previous Livestovck Jodging Contest Results

Meats judging contests consist of retail meat identification and judging of retail meat cuts and carcasses. Retail meat identification consists of identifying the species, primal cut, retail cut and cookery method. Judging requires the participants to rank the meat in the classes, answer questions on chosen classes, and deliver sets of oral reasons from memory.

Meats Judging Contest Resources

Previous Contest Materials

Previous Contest Results

Youth Poultry Judging offers youth the ability to rank classes of production hens and market broilers, and give oral reasons from memory on one or two of the classes. They grade ready-to-cook broiler carcasses, turkey carcasses, candled eggs, broken-out eggs and exterior eggs. They are also asked to identify mixed broiler parts.

The youth cattle working contest develops youth skills in animal management and handling. Working as a team, youth efficiently process three stocker calves utilizing Beef Quality Assurance guidelines. Regional competitions are held in the spring throughout the state; the top teams from each region then compete at the State Youth Cattle Working Contest held in conjunction with the Junior Beef Roundup.

Read more about the Youth Cattle Working Contests.

The Livestock Quiz Bowl is a competition that tests the knowledge youth possess regarding beef, sheep, swine, and meat goat topics. Teams compete in a single elimination format and use a buzzer to signify that they would like to attempt to answer a question.  Oral answers are given to questions posed by a moderator. Each match has an individual, team and toss-up question round.

Quiz Bowl Resources

Previous Quiz Bowl Results

Junior Beef Roundup (Virginia Beef Expo)

The Junior Beef Roundup is held in conjunction with the Virginia Beef Expo. This event is typically held the third weekend in April and features a variety of contests and activities for youth in the Commonwealth. In addition to youth breed shows, commercial heifer, and prospect steer shows, the Junior Beef Roundup will host the State Stockmen's Contest, State Beef Ambassador Contest, and State Youth Cattle Working Contest. 

More about the Junior Beef Roundup »

State Fair of Virginia

A culminating event for youth livestock projects, this event allows youth to exhibit their cattle, sheep, meat goats, and swine and compete in showmanship.

Location: The Meadow Event Park - Doswell, VA
Contact: Katherine Carter- (540) 231-2257  Scott Greiner- (540) 231-9159
Schedule: (coming soon)
Additional information: State Fair of Virginia official web site

More about the State Fair of Virginia


Youth Beef Field Day

Join the Virginia Tech Beef Leadership Council on March 29th, 2024 in Blacksburg, VA for a fun filled educational day! Topics include advocacy, reproduction, meat science, nutrition, and the college experience for youth aged 9-18! Lunch will be provided and YQCA training is available for both juniors and seniors. Questions can be directed to Katherine Carter at and Jessica Harrison at


Youth Swine Day

Join the Virginia Tech Swine Club for a fun-filled educational day on April 6th, 2024 in Blacksburg, VA. Activities include a tour of the new VT Swine Center and learning stations on pig reproduction and baby pig management. 


Judge Like a Champion Judging Camp

  • June 2-4, 2024
  • Rockingham County Fairgrounds - Harrisonburg, VA 
  • Registration LINK:
  • Cost: $175/youth; does not include lodging
  • For more information: Katherine Carter - (540) 231- 2257

Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA)

Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA) is a national multi-species quality assurance program for youth ages 8 to 21.  An in-person YQCA workshop requires complete attendance. YQCA is the result of a collaborative effort between states that have previously offered multi-species youth livestock quality assurance programs, the National Pork Board’s Youth PQA Plus program and representatives from other national livestock groups. YQCA is designed as an annual education and certification program focused on food safety, animal well-being and character awareness for youth ages 8 to 21 producing and/or showing pigs, beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, goats, market rabbits, and poultry. The program has been designed by extension specialists and national livestock program managers to ensure it is accurate, current and relevant to the needs of the animal industry and shows and is appropriate for youth.

Youth Poultry Convention

The Youth Poultry Convention offers both competition and education for those attending. Youth rank classes of production hens and give oral reasons from memory on one of the classes. They grade ready-to-cook broiler carcasses, turkey carcasses, candled eggs, broken-out eggs and exterior eggs. They are also asked to identify mixed broiler parts. The competitions are followed by fun and educational events including a youth poultry carnival for juniors and job shadowing and production tours for seniors. In 2016, youth educational tracks were available to all participants featuring a Live Production Track, Post-Production Track, Consumer Advocacy Track, and a Food Challenge Track. more>>

Resource Home

  • Beef
  • Meat Goats
  • Poultry
  • Swine
  • Sheep
  • Carcass Information
  • Meats Judging
  • Livestock Judging
  • Stockmen's Contest
  • Quiz Bowl



Katherine Carter
Extension Youth Animal Science Specialist
(540) 231-2257

Scott Greiner
Extension Animal Science Specialist
(540) 231-9159


Hunter Liles
Extension Youth Animal Science Associate
(540) 231-6345



Virginia 4-H Livestock Programs Endowment

The Virginia 4-H Foundation is spearheading the advancement of the Virginia 4-H Youth Livestock Programs Endowment. 4-H livestock programming is funded through a combination of private gifts, endowment income, gifts in kind, and participant fees.

More information>>